Eagle man found guilty in Florida in marine life case

A man tried to help his uncle, a co-founder of the Idaho Aquarium, by asking a business to destroy evidence.

cmsewell@idahostatesman.comJuly 26, 2013 

The conviction of Peter C. Covino IV, 20, of Eagle, stems from a case involving Ammon Covino, who faces federal charges for purchasing and transporting wildlife from the Florida Keys for exhibit at the Idaho Aquarium in Boise.

Idaho Aquarium co-founders Ammon Covino, 39, of Meridian, and Chris Conk, 40, of Middleton, were arrested in Boise on Feb. 21 on a Florida warrant and charged with illegally purchasing Florida marine life “for captive display” at the aquarium.

The next day, federal agents listened to two recorded telephone calls that took place the night of Feb. 21. The calls were placed to a Florida business from which Covino and Conk are accused of illegally purchasing marine life and shipping it to Idaho.

The caller asked the Florida businessman to cancel a marine life shipment to Boise, refund the credit card and to erase all emails, text messages and other evidence associated with Ammon Covino, according to court documents and testimony.

Federal agents identified the caller as Peter C. Covino, the son of Ammon Covino's brother, Peter C. Covino III.

During his trial testimony, Peter Covino admitted that he made the calls at the direction of Ammon Covino.

A federal jury found Peter Covino guilty. He faces a sentence of up to 20 years, a fine of up to $250,000 and a term of supervised release of up to three years. His sentencing is set for Sept. 24.

The trial of Ammon Covino and Chris Conk is set for Sept. 19 in Key West.

In June, the court granted Ammon Covino permission to temporarily move to Austin, Texas, where he and his brother, Vince, are opening an aquarium. The brothers also have an aquarium in Portland.

Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell

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